Diseases of blood vessels are a major cause of premature disability and death. Proper, adequate diet revision should be aggressively sought as a solution to this major endemic disease problem, if not by national policy, then by personal prerogative.
Heart attacks and strokes are the most obvious consequence of damaged arteries and increased clotting of blood. The main event of both heart attacks and strokes is the occlusion by a sudden blood clot of one or more blood vessels; the clotting event is called a thrombosis. When blood flow is critically short cells die. When the coronary arteries are obstructed, the heart muscle is damaged - a myocardial infarct and may fail. When the arteries to the brain are obstructed a cerebral infarct occurs with loss of motor, sensory or cognitive abilities. Neither the heart nor the brain can repair the damage so that the injury leaves behind a permanent disability. Thrombosis occurs in arteries narrowed by fatty lesions in the arterial walls, a process known as atherosclerosis. When the coronary or cerebral arteries are diseased it is a matter of time before symptoms of reduced blood flow are felt or an attack occurs.
Aging men and women are having more heart attacks and strokes. One explanation is that the population at risk is becoming more sedentary with an increase in obesity. Their food supply is clearly suspect and it is not just the fat in the diet. These arterial problems with different and complex origins link to the diets and lifestyle popular in Europe and North America and occur less often among physically active, vegetable-eating populations who seldom eat dairy products, meat, and other high-protein-fat foods. Well-known risk factors are family history, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, excess body fat, and physical inactivity. The risk of heart attacks positively correlates with higher blood levels of cholesterol; the risk of strokes does not. Smoking and diabetes are the greatest risk factors.
Fat Is Not the Only Pathogen in Food
High cholesterol theories of vascular disease are too simple. Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events are thought of, simplistically, as just one disease. We prefer a whole-system's interactive model. No single dietary factor, such as an elevated cholesterol level, will be solely responsible for calamitous events. We must consider the total impact of the food supply. For example we should ask: "What about the sugar and the protein content of foods? What food factors increase clotting and increase the work-load on the heart? What dietary conditions predispose to arrhythmias? What dietary factors are protective against ischemic damage to the heart and brain?
There has been a relatively sudden paradigm shift in cardiovascular medicine from fat theories of disease toward recognition of the pervasive rope of inflammation. Inflammation is a consequence of immune activity. Chronic inflammation may arise from food, infection, and autoimmune disease. I have yet to meet a cardiologist who knows that food antigens, such as cow’s milk proteins, can trigger inflammatory disease. Delayed pattern food allergy may cause inflammation in vessel walls and trigger the clotting mechanism. Keaney et a reported that:” background Inflammation within vulnerable coronary plaques may cause unstable angina by promoting rupture and erosion. In unstable angina, activated leukocytes may be found in peripheral and coronary-sinus blood. “
A non-specific indicator of inflammation is the C-reactive protein levels in the blood. Elevated levels are associated with increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. For example, Ridker et al studied 27,939 apparently healthy American women, who were followed for eight years for the occurrence of myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, coronary revascularization, or death from cardiovascular causes. Elevated C-reactive protein levels were a better predictor of vascular events than low LDL cholesterol levels. The researchers reported that: ” 77 percent of all events occurred among women with LDL cholesterol levels below 160 mg per deciliter (4.14 mmol per liter), and 46 percent occurred among those with LDL cholesterol levels below 130 mg per deciliter (3.36 mmol per liter)… C-reactive protein and LDL cholesterol measurements tended to identify different high-risk groups, screening for both biologic markers provided better prognostic information than screening for either alone.”
The Solution - Diet Revision and Exercise
To improve the health of modern citizens and to reduce, at the same time, the increasing costs of health-care, self-responsibility for disease-prevention is required. Each person will have to alter disease-causing habits, change poor eating habits, stop smoking and drinking, and become more physically active. Many years ago, in his best-selling book "The Pritikin Promise", Nathan Pritikin advocated a more stringent low fat diet to combat cardiovascular disease. He, like many nutritional theorists, chose one food demon to attack, fat-cholesterol, but he also recommended limiting high protein foods such as poultry, lean meat, and fish to 3.5 ounces per day. Pritikin advocated high vegetable intake but discouraged the ingesting of vegetable oils. But some vegetable oils have potential health benefits. Olive oil, for example, is protective against heart attacks.
High Blood Pressure also relates to diet. For years, excessive sodium salt was associated with hypertension, and low sodium diets were recommended. According to the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, non-drug strategies should be the priority for hypertension control in the 90's. Smoking cessation, low fat diet, weight loss, exercise, reduced alcoholic beverage consumption, and increased potassium intake with decreased sodium are the important steps to avoid the problem of high blood pressure. A vegetarian diet is favorable for anyone with high blood pressure and other manifestations of cardiovascular disease.
The Alpha Nutrition Program is designed to reduce cholesterol, total fat, saturated fats, and food allergy while increasing vegetable fiber-all desirable measures in the effort to prevent blood vessel diseases, heart attacks and strokes. Increased intake of potassium, magnesium and calcium is advocated with a reduction in sodium salt intake. Increased intake of six vitamins: folic acid, pyridoxine, Vitamin B12, beta carotene, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and vitamin E-are recommended. The program can be recommended, along with exercise and relaxation, as the most important defenses against cardiovascular disease.
Alpha Nutrition is desirable for people who are struggling with chronic symptoms that suggest they have food-related disease and also have some of the risk factors for arterial disease. Clues to the pervasive effects of the wrong food supply include headaches, fatigue, digestive symptoms, arthritic symptoms, food cravings and compulsive eating or drinking. The presence of recurrent or persistent symptoms means the complete comprehensive diet revision is required - not just salt and fat reduction.
Overviews of Arterial Disease.
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